Jackie’s father died of AIDS when she was a child. He had three wives and eleven children. Jackie was his oldest. After her father and two of his wives died she and the other children were homeless and hopeless.
Then Compassion International came to her town and began a “project” through a local church there. They admitted 120 children – Jackie said this was because Compassion was testing the church to see if it could be trusted. I’d wondered about that. One complaint Tony Campolo voiced when I heard him speak recently was that churches in America are often duped by churches in the third world looking to get rich off of our sympathy. It’s good to Compassion International tests it’s partners around the world with a little responsibility before giving them more.
Jackie was nine when the project began. A line of children formed at the church, each one waiting to have his or her picture taken by Compassion International – a picture that is then part of a child sponsorship packet like the ones I distribute at all my concerts and speaking engagements. Jackie said today that her life changed the day they took her picture. I don’t know why but that grabbed me. No one had fed her yet. No one had said “I love you” yet. No one had told her about Jesus yet, or taught her to read and write. All they did was take her picture and that tiny taste of hope was enough to change her life.
Jackie said Compassion is raising up a generation in the third world that knows Jesus and has been educated and cared for. She said that generation could end injustice in her country. She said we never know when we sponsor a child if ours will be one that changes a city or a country. She talked about her sponsor and how her letters got her through a very hard life. She said that because she had been “blessed” by her sponsor she was blessing back by speaking up for the thousands of poor children in the world who have not yet been released from poverty by Compassion International. She blessed back by volunteering at the Compassion project that raised her.
It dawned on me that when we know we’re blessed we bless back. She knows it and she’s giving her time to tell high school students in America what a difference their thirty dollars a month can make in a child’s life and to an entire nation in time. I cringe when I hear people after my shows say they’d love to sponsor a child but they’re just barely getting by right now. Not likely. Barely getting by in America is quite blessed compared to the poverty children like Jackie were born into. Pardon my insensitivity, I’m a just a little passionate and indignant at the moment.
My head is swimming with what ifs. What else could I do to spread the word about Compassion International. How can I integrate their work into my work to an even greater degree? What if? Do you have something you’re so passionate about, so sure is worth living and dying for that you stay up at night wading through what ifs? I feel more alive now, more thrilled to do my job, more certain of why I’m here than ever before. I think the what ifs do that. Jackie just stirred them up again,